Filmmaker Landon Brands' short film Under the Sun exploring Ecclesiastes 1-2 and the theme of destruction. The piece hinges on the idea that all our toiling, all our work is essentially meaningless.
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18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
1 I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity. 2 I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it? 3 I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life. 4 I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards: 5 I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits: 6 I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees: 7 I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me: 8 I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts. 9 So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. 11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.
12 ¶ And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been already done. 13 Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.
This piece, a response to Ecclesiastes 1-2, was inspired partly by observing my own tendencies to work extremely hard for long periods of time–to excess, some would say. I remember reading this passage on a quiet fishing trip several years ago, and it immediately jumped out at me. Out there, away from cell phone coverage and reminders of work or school, it made sense. Nowhere else in scripture is it so blunt: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the teacher. “Everything is meaningless.”
That can be hard to hear when we’ve been told all our lives that work = achievements = position = happiness. (It was tough for me.) While our accomplishments may bear short term rewards, will anyone remember (or care) after our short time on earth is up? With this piece I aim to question the toil-fueled, achievement-oriented definition of success that is en vogue in Western societies today.
I’m not suggesting that accomplishments and work ethic are without value, but we need to stop and think (and consider higher things lasting things) before we pour every drop of our lifeblood into the temporary pursuits of this world.
Landon Brands is a digital creator of film, video, and motion design. He has nearly completed his BA in Media Arts at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, MN, graduating this December. Landon works at the intersection of creativity and technology. A true digital native, he first experimented with graphic layout at the age of eight and completed his first video production at 13. He brings this curiosity and methodology to his work today, working in a variety of mediums (including live action, animation, and motion design) and often mixing them together. He has worked commercially for over 30 clients — a combination of directing, shooting, producing, and editing. He has also assisted in the production of several national and international commercials, music videos, and TV promotional campaigns. Landon’s paramount goal is to tell stories that matter.